Honoring the Mercury 13 Women
May 12, 2007 * UW Oshkosh Spring Commencement

Before Sally Ride, Christa McAuliffe and Eileen Collins, courageous women were setting new records and conquering new horizons. Though largely unrecognized in history, the Mercury 13 women showed their determination, strength and bravery in the Space Race with accomplishments that paved the way for generations. The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is proud to recognize the pioneering spirit of these women with honorary Doctor of Science—honoris causa—degrees.


Bernice “B” Steadman

After earning her private pilot’s license at age 17, Bernice "B" Steadman took to the skies and never looked back. She started her own flight school, charter service and fixed base operator at Bishop International Airport in Flint, Mich., where she flew chartered flights and sold aircraft. She also taught Reserve Air Force pilots after World War II.

In 1946, she earned her commercial pilot’s license and went on to earn the highest FAA license, the airline transport pilot license. In addition to winning the Transcontinental Air Race and the International Air Race, she was elected president of the International Ninety-Nines, a women’s flying group formed by Amelia Earhart and other women aviator pioneers.

Steadman was one of the first women to undergo astronaut testing at Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque, N.M., following Jerrie Cobb, and became one of the Mercury 13.

Although she does not pilot planes today, Steadman remains active in many aviation organizations. She has served as president of the International Women’s Air and Space Museum and serves as a chair of the board for that organization.

Download Bernice “B” Steadman commendation (pdf)